Ryan is an OSA (opposite-sex attracted) friend that I met a year ago when I first started coming out of the lifestyle and started going to The Retreat (my Tuesday night guys' bible study group). Prior to this past year I had always had the lowest of expectations when it came to friendships with OSA guys. I didn't expect rejection from them necessarily, but I had always expected them to be indifferent to me. This was because since I was 15, I had been in the gay lifestyle - relating to men solely in unhealthy ways and seeing that as my ONLY value to other men.
I spent the past year struggling to break free of those old mindsets and Ryan and Jason were two of the friends who helped me a lot. They both witnessed the graphic details of my struggle to break free and stayed in the fight with me. Their Christ-centered love was amazing. They've been amazing role models for me in terms of healthy non-ssa friendships.
Ryan is also a very outgoing guy with tons of friends that have been close to him for years (some since childhood, others from college, etc.) I've always felt secure in the friendship - whereas in the past I would have defensively detached early on (assuming I couldn't "compete" or "offer anything" --- my old SSA ways of thinking). I didn't fall into that mindset with this friendship and that enabled me to be blessed abundantly with a very healthy and mutually affirming friendship.
This past weekend was Ryan's wedding and I was asked to be an usher and I felt honored to be asked to fill that role (especially since he has a LOT of close friends he could have asked).
During the reception I was helping the family coordinate with the DJ and caterers. I hadn't thought to look for a place to sit initially. I'm used to being invited to big political fund-raising dinners by working behind the scenes. At those events they never remember to assign a seat for me and the coordinators there usually tell me to "just look for an empty seat and take it." I've never thought much of it since at those events I'm usually too busy to sit down and eat anyway.
Saturday night though, someone asked me where I was "sitting." I answered, "well, I'm not sure. It's not a big deal." They said, "well, where are you assigned?" I said, "what do you mean?" They pointed to a string that was hanging up with Name cards and table assignments. There were only a few cards left. I hadn't even thought of looking at it because I didn't expect that they would put MY name up there.
I finally looked and was surprised to see my name. I pulled the card and looked at the table number. I looked to the very front and saw that my table included the wedding party. I almost cried actually. I thought that it must be a mistake. I didn't feel worthy to be at the "Main" table.
Back in March, when I started going to daily mass (a few times a week), I also started reading the Bible each day. I chose to follow the Roman Liturgical (daily mass) calendar at first because it is relatively short, but also so I could follow the Christian calendar and form my life by the events of life of Christ (that the calendar models). I'd been helping setup for the wedding so I didn't get to read the Saturday reading until I got home (after midnight).
Here is the Gospel reading for Saturday Oct 31, 2010:
He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table."When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” - Luke 14:7-11